Friday, October 26, 2012
Final Word: AFC South
By Paul Kuharsky
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Five nuggets of knowledge about Week 8:
Road woes: The Colts know that if they are going to be playoff contenders in the AFC, they’ve got to break through on the road. They seek their first win away from Lucas Oil Stadium Sunday at LP Field. It would be their first road win since Dec. 26, 2010. Since then, the Colts have 10 straight road losses. Per ESPN Stats and Information, since 2006 only two AFC teams have had longer road losing streaks -- the Browns and Dolphins each lost 11 in a row. A loss would give the Colts their longest road losing streak since the 1981-82 seasons, when they lost 12 straight.
Forward progress: The Packers are moving the ball and scoring points, and quarterback Aaron Rodgers has completed 73 percent of his passes in his past two games, for 680 yards and nine touchdowns. He has thrown at least three TD passes in his past four games. Meanwhile, the Jaguars have recorded zero or negative yards on 38.9 percent of plays with Blaine Gabbert at quarterback and zero or negative yards on 53.9 percent of their plays with Chad Henne at quarterback. Gabbert will play with an injured left shoulder and is going against a secondary that will be without Charles Woodson, who is injured.
Relief pitcher: Matt Hasselbeck will start his third consecutive game in place of Jake Locker, who’s rehabilitating an injured left, non-throwing shoulder. Hasselbeck enters this game with 199 career touchdown passes. His next one will make him the 32nd player in NFL history to reach the 200-touchdown mark. He would join Drew Brees, Tom Brady, and Peyton Manning as the only active QBs with 200 TD passes. The Giants' Eli Manning could join the club with a big game against Dallas -- he currently has 197 passing touchdowns. Hasselbeck has found a rhythm in the past two weeks, leading the Titans to consecutive wins.
Major work: When the Texans return from their bye, the bad special teams will be subject to revamping. “I think there are just a lot of things that have to get better, me and Joe [Marciano] coaching it, and players doing it,” coach Gary Kubiak said. “We may have to get a few starters involved in what we do as we get deeper into the season too. … You hope it doesn’t come up too often, because you’re trying to stay healthy throughout the whole thing but as we move forward and as you get deeper and deeper in the season, I think it’s something you have to think about.” Receiver Kevin Walter and linebacker Brooks Reed are two starters Kubiak mentioned.
Also: The Jaguars have lost three consecutive games. Since the start of the 2011 season, Jacksonville is tied for the fourth-worst win percentage in the NFL (6-16, .237). The Packers, meanwhile, own the best record during the same stretch (19-4, .826). … After throwing seven touchdowns in his first four games, Andrew Luck has not thrown one in his past two games. ... If Tennessee kicker Rob Bironas connects on three extra points, he will tie the franchise record for most consecutive PATs made. Al Del Greco hit 229 from 1993 to 2000. … Among quarterback-receiver combinations that have attempted at least 30 connections, Gabbert and Justin Blackmon have the lowest connection rate at 40.6 percent.